A DISQUALIFIED driver led police on a prolonged high-speed pursuit in his BMW just six weeks after being banned from the roads.

Luke Flaherty, then 20, had a clean record until a magistrates’ court conviction for two counts each of drug driving and possessing cannabis, on February 20, when he received a community order and was banned from driving for 23 months.

But, Durham Crown Court heard that police came across Flaherty at the wheel of the BMW in Burnhope, at 12.15pm on April 9.

A record check confirmed he had no insurance and so the police driver activated his blue lights and siren.

Flaherty failed to stop and accelerated onto Langley Lane before taking the junction with the A691 at such speed another driver with right of way had to take evasive action.

The BMW reached 100-miles per hour on the A691 approaching Lanchester, overtaking a bus in the face of oncoming traffic.

Chris Baker, prosecuting, said the police driver believed it was safer to abandon the pursuit, but another officer picked up the BMW travelling southbound on the A68 at High Stoop at 12.25pm.

It began a 17-minute chase, going through Tow Law at 90-mph in a 30-limit zone, overtaking vehicles on the wrong side of the road and on a bend at 70-mph, still doing 80-mph in Stanley Crook, causing a pedestrian to leap out of his way on a single-track road, before heading to Willington, on the A690, also doing 80-mph on 40 and 30-limit roads.

There were further dangerous overtaking manoeuvres before Flaherty collided with a kerb, badly damaging a rear wheel, enabling the police driver to block the BMW driver’s door.

The defendant, now 21, of Larne Crescent, Gateshead, admitted dangerous driving, driving while disqualified and without insurance, plus possession of a cannabis and a lock knife upon arrest.

Penny Hall, for Flaherty, said he panicked on seeing police, due to the recent ban, “driving off in a completely inappropriate manner.”

Miss Hall said until February he had not set foot in court, and until now has never been in prison.

She said he has gone off the rails this year since he began using cocaine, which he has recently given up while being curfewed, prior to the case.

Imposing a 16-month prison sentence, with a 38-month driving ban, Judge Ray Singh told Flaherty it was, “seriously bad driving”, which could easily have resulted in serious injury.